June 17, 2015

Pine Hollow Arboretum, June 12

Erroneously billed as a “Double Feature on a Summer Eve” it indeed was a "double feature," but not quite yet “Summer,” although the evening’s thunderstorm made it seem almost like Summer. The featured poets were Deborah Poe & Kita Shantiris, along with an ample open mic.

Judith Kerman, publisher of Mayapple Press of Woodstock, NY, began the open mic with a prose poem “The Candy Jar,” then on to an alphabetic acrostic, & then a poem about a slug “Global Positioning.” Bob Sharkey’s poem “Desecration of Desire” sounded like an account of a dream, while “History of Entanglement” described characters on a train. Paul Amidon followed with a poem also about being on a train “Dustbin of History,” then one based on an old black & white photo “Family History.” John Abbuhl, planter/steward/proprietor of Pine Hollow Arboretum, has filled up the pocket notebook from which he usually reads & read the poem “The Way It Is” from a sheet of paper, then read an essay proposing “The Institute for the Promotion of Public Discussion.” Howard Kogan’s single piece, “Kindness,” was a narrative in dialogue between an old couple, about suicide. Mark W. O’Brien read “Redemption” (on a boat). Philip Good’s poem “Untitled with Location” was published in an anthology of poems written in February. I followed with my poem “What Is Your Pilgrimage?” written in response/reaction to an essay by Alifair Skebe printed in the May 2015 R.D. Newsletter.

Deborah Poe, who teaches at Pace University in Pleasantville, NY, has read a few times in the past in this area. Tonight she read from a variety of her “projects,” beginning with poems from the last will be stone, too (Stockport Flats), poems based on art pieces about death, descriptive lists of images & her reactions to the art. She also read a few poems from a new manuscript of pieces based on memory, including “Wild Kingdom” responding to images from a book about the old TV program. At a couple of her previous readings here she had read from her book based on the Periodic Table, Elements (also Stockport Flats); tonight she read “Calcium” from the book & a new piece continuing the project “Iridium.” She also read an erasure poem from a project in which the participants awaken at 3:15AM to write a poem, then ended with the poem “I Am Another Yourself.”

The poet known as Kita Shantiris announced that this was the first time she has read on the East Coast (she is from Los Angeles) & she read exclusively from her new book What Snakes Want (Mayapple Press). Her poems were often about love, or at least sensuality, often mixed in with childhood memories, as in “Beyond Ft. Worth,” “Rickrack,” & “Gratification.” “My Racing Mind,” about driving Highway 5 in California, was rich in images from the road & included references to Shiva & Ganesh (the Hindu elephant god), while “Parsing the Body” imagined a life without adjectives. The last section of her book includes poems about death. “Pins” was for her sister, & the poem “Handiwork” also included pins & sewing, “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” was in the persona of a World War II vet, then she ended with the lush “Maidenhair Trees” & “Four Letter Words” with its references to Herman Melville.

A double feature with two poets with different approaches to making poems, but both with interesting work filled with rich imagery & playful language.

After another break, to buy books & schmooze, we were back for the rest of the open mic, with Joe Krausman with an old poem about buying beauty, brains, etc. but with a new title “Justification,” then the poem “Bible Editing” (making it new & gentle). Bernadette Mayer’s descriptive poem “Walking Like a Robin” somehow strolled into a discussion of income equality. Jessica Rae’s poem “What Is Real?” pondered money, or Nature & life, then she read a poem by W.H. Auden. Earlier in the day Deborah Poe & her husband Karl Bode had explored part of the Arboretum & she played a recording of Karl playing on the open tubes of the musical bridge. Our host & MC Alan Casline read a poem referencing Gloucester & Charles Olson “I Dreamed Last Night of the Circling of the Stars.” Tom Corrado finished off the night with another of his “Screen Dumps,” now all the way up to #218.

This series continues through the Summer, into whatever comes next until the snow flies, on the 2nd Friday of the month at the Pine Hollow Arboretum, 16 Maple Ave., Slingerlands, NY, 6:30PM, bring poems for the open mic portion of the program.

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